Air plants are a nickname for Tillandsia, which is a genus in the Bromeliad family. There are over 600 different types of tillandsia or "Air Plants", a number that continues to grow as new species are being discovered. Most air plants are epiphytes, using their root system to attach themselves to a host. Interestingly enough, they do not use their roots to pull nutrients from their host rather just to anchor themselves. Some tillandsia air plants are even aerophytes, meaning their root system is very minimal and are used to anchor their base in shifting or loose desert sand/substrate. Some of the more green types of air plants can be potted in a very fast draining mix, although doing so can increase your risk for fungus/root rot due to extra moisture around the base of the plant, so we don't always recommend it unless you are very experienced in caring for that type of tillandsia. The lack of soil need allows air plants to be used in a wide array of design ideas! From terrariums to living walls, air plants are a unique alternative to traditional foliage.
In nature Tillandsia air plants can be found in a wide range of environments, from humid rainforests to dry and arid deserts. The bulk of tillandsia are found in Central America, South America, and Mexico.
"How do you care for an air plant?" Our customers ask this one quite a bit, and it's a tough one to answer! The simple answer is that caring for an air plant depends on a lot of factors, with some of the more important ones being what type of tillandsia "air plant" and what type of environment you in? Are you keeping your air plant indoors or outdoors? Matching the right plant for your environment goes a long way in being a successful air plant parent. If you live in an area with a lot of humidity, you may find that the greener more "mesic" type air plants will do well. We have found that for most environments and most air plant species, soaking two or three times a week for 20 minutes or so is enough hydration. More importantly is that your plant is able to dry out within a few hours and doesn't sit in moisture for prolonged periods.